The Shape of Architecture
“What excites me about architecture is the ability to change our environment,” says Jacqueline Velez (B.S.A.T. ’85). “By creating and reshaping spaces and communities, we can make them appealing and elevate the occupants’ quality of life.”
As the founder and principal of JMV Associates and JMV Architect, Velez has had a chance to influence the shape of spaces and communities. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, JMV Associates has become a top consulting firm specializing in building codes, zoning analysis, and expediting services. The firm has served as a prime consultant with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and as a subconsultant for many New York City governmental agencies, including the School Construction Authority and the Housing Authority.
With the establishment of JMV Architect in 2016, Velez began putting her expertise to work in another way, with renovations and construction of new schools; office buildings; and retail, residential, and community facilities, including adaptive reuse. Both companies are New York state and New York City certified as Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
“Managing small businesses as a minority woman throughout the most challenging times, such as recessions and a world pandemic, has not been an easy journey,” Velez admits. “There are obstacles which must be overcome daily. My greatest challenges are employment recruitment, seeking prospective clients, and retention. However, there are many benefits and rewards for which I am grateful every day. Being able to spend my time designing spaces, using my creativity, and coming up with a vision reminds me of the reasons I chose this career.”
Velez knew that she wanted to build things since the age of ten when she spent time with a relative who was studying architecture. Later, when researching colleges, she came across New York Tech’s architectural technology program, and the fit seemed obvious. “New York Tech offered a broad curriculum that resonated with me,” she says.
Velez credits the curriculum for helping her transition to becoming a professional. “There were several memorable professors who positively impacted my time at New York Tech,” she says. “They acted as catalysts by motivating me; instilling in me the ability to think independently, critically, and creatively; and teaching me to pay close attention to detail while managing my time.”
Velez says in the 30 years she has been working, the industry has evolved at a breakneck pace: from the use of new building materials to the focus on ecofriendly, innovative, and sustainable solutions to the need for accessible design. But while the industry has changed, Velez says many of the things she learned at New York Tech remain evergreen. “When I think of my time at New York Tech, I am most thankful for acquiring specific and vital employability skills: public speaking, problem-solving, and communication skills.”